Paradise

A fictional narrative photo essay

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We used to work at the Paradise. She ran the projector and I worked the tickets. On my break I would sneak up to the booth with her. Most the time we would just share a headphone and listen to music. We would talk a lot about our personal lives. Things we didn't share with others.

 

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Sometimes we would look out the windows into the theater. We hardly watched the movies, we watched the humanity. We would lean against the glass and dream up futures for the people below. Our favorites were the young lovers. So enraptured with each other that what movie they went to didn't matter. We would make bets on how long they would last as couples. Bets that we could never collect on.

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One night after witnessing a couple not come up for air for five minutes, she sat back onto the floor of the projection booth and asked, "Do you ever feel that it would be possible to die from love? As in.. you love something so much that the idea of living with that love is too much to take?"

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I don't remember why I smiled. I like to pretend I didn't see how serious she was being, but I know deep inside I was just not ready to face the look in her eyes. My smile turned into a laugh and I blurted out, "I wish I had that problem". 

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I wish I wouldn't have said it.  She went back to listening to music and I went back to the ticket booth.

She went away soon after that. I like to imagine her in the movies out in California, living the dream life, but I know that isn't true.

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The Paradise shut down a few years later. Ticket sales dropped after she left and the theater couldn't keep up with the cost to go all digital. It's just a husk now. Every once in awhile I find myself slipping in through a busted window. Walking the rotted carpets and up the twisted stairs to the empty projection booth. 

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I look out the windows into the theater and a weight settles into my heart.

It's the weight of remembering her.

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The weight of missing.

The weight of regret.

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We used to work at the Paradise.  Now I think we live there.


All photos in the original series: